NJM Blog

What to Do After a Natural Disaster

Man grieving over house destroyed in hurricane.

You can reduce or prevent losses from a natural disaster by being prepared. Unfortunately, no matter what precautions you take, damage can still occur.

Use this checklist to start recovering after extreme weather passes:

Account for your family members and pets.
Ensure that everyone is safe and healthy. If anyone is missing or injured, seek assistance. Take steps to help your loved ones cope with their experience.

Stay healthy.
Drink clean water and wash your hands with soap and water often. Throw out any contaminated food.

Tune in to local news and alerts.
Trusted sources can keep you updated about safety issues in the community and the upcoming weather forecast. Monitor your children’s exposure to media sources that show repeated images of damage, which can cause anxiety.

Seek assistance.
Volunteer organizations like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army may help with food, shelter, supplies, and clean–up. Notify local authorities of any safety issues you identify, like downed power lines or gas leaks. If you turned your utilities off, experts can let you know if it’s safe to turn them back on.

Take stock of the damage.
Use caution when returning home. Only once it is safe, walk the perimeter of your house to check for missing or damaged siding, gutters, or roof tiles. Stay away from the building if you see cracks in the walls, foundation, or roof, because these are signs of structural damage. If you can get inside safely, look for water damage, cracks, and damaged or frayed wires; smell and listen for potential gas leaks.

If it’s unsafe to stay, leave.
Take your emergency kit and important documents. Keep all receipts from your temporary accommodations, including the additional cost of meals, laundry, and pet/childcare while you are unable to access your home.

Notify your insurance company.
Certain types of damage might be covered under your property insurance or flood insurance policy. You may make temporary repairs to reduce further damage to your property, but you should not make aesthetic repairs until you report your claim and hear back from your claims representative. Take photos and keep all receipts.

See how you can help.
If you are able, seek out opportunities to help others who have been affected by the disaster. Local organizations may be seeking volunteers or food and supply donations. Consider donating to a recognized disaster relief organization.

After extreme weather, it’s important to have insurance you can trust. NJM responds promptly to catastrophic events. Report your claim 24/7 or get answers online to frequently asked questions about homeowners claims.

“Recovering from Disaster.” Ready.gov
“Recovering from Disaster.” Fema.gov
“Coping After a Natural Disaster: Resources and Information for Teens.” Cdc.gov
“Healthy Ways to Deal with Stress After a Natural Disaster.” Cdc.gov